The Two-Minute Trailer That Is Guaranteed to Freak You Out About College Today

A new documentary tells the disturbing story of young American women whose cries for help were ignored.
Mar 1, 2015·
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

Stories of sexual assault on America’s college campuses are being told in an unprecedented way—by the fearless young women who have gone from being victims to activists in the push to end an epidemic of campus rape.

In a chilling new documentary called The Hunting Ground, which hit theaters Friday, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering took a look at the alarming trend that has emerged across the country in recent years. From Occidental College, the small liberal arts college in Los Angeles, to prestigious Columbia University in New York City, academic institutions from coast to coast have struggled with how to deal with campus sexual assault.

Time and again young women encountered similar problems. They took allegations of sexual assault to campus authorities and say they were told not to contact police, to keep it quiet. And too often they were blamed for the sexual violence they endured.

One of the groups that has been fighting to fix the problem is End Rape on Campus, spearheaded by two University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, students after their allegations of sexual assault were ignored. The group reports that 77 American schools are under federal investigation for sexual assault complaints.

Back in 2013, I covered a news conference as a reporter for The Associated Press where attorney Gloria Allred sat flanked by more than a dozen young women who were demanding to be named as sexual assault victims. As a matter of ethical practice, the AP typically won’t name such victims, to preserve their privacy—making rape victims some of the few people to be granted anonymity with ease. The young women from Occidental wanted to break that rule, to break the pattern of being unseen, unheard, and disrespected.

Since then, President Obama has helmed “It’s on Us,” a national campaign to bring attention to the problem; states such as California have made legislative moves to increase protections; and campuses have promised better a response.

This film is the latest attempt to right these wrongs and protect future college students—and it’s only possible through the bravery of young women all over the country who want their stories told in the name of justice.